Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good

“Can a trip to Midgard help a bad god grow a conscience?”

Louie Stowell

Loki savors being the god of mischief and chaos. Odin, the all-father, has had enough of that. Despite the bad god’s misdeeds, Odin gives Loki one last chance to avoid a painful eternity in a pit of venomous snakes.

Thus begins Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell.

Loki is sent to Earth as an eleven-year-old mortal boy named Liam. (How mortifying!)

Loki/Liam has one month to show that he, the former sly trickster shape-shifter god Loki, can be morally better. His starting virtue points score is -3,000. The goal in 30 days is to reach +3,000. The scorekeeper is a journal that has been imbued with the wisdom of Odin and which can explain aspects of 21st-century human life and critique Loki’s words and actions, much to his annoyance. Loki is given a makeshift “family”: Thor poses as his brother, the giantess Hyrrokkin stands in for his mother, and Heimdall, normally the guardian of Bifrost – the Rainbow Bridge – poses as his father. Loki is not allowed to use his powers or reveal that he is a god. And to make matters worse, Liam must attend school every day. This life could not possibly be more frustrating.

Even when he tells the truth, Loki/Liam gets himself in deep doo-doo. To wit: He complies when his teacher assigns everyone to make a family tree.

According to Norse mythology, there may be some mystery surrounding Loki’s parents. Three of Loki’s children were unremarkable, but the other four are…well…Jormungandr, the colossal snake that encircles Midgard (aka Earth); Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse Odin rides; Fenrir, the enormous wolf who will kill Odin at Ragnarok; and Hel, who is half woman and half corpse and rules the underworld filled with those who died un-heroic deaths. Though Loki has been entirely truthful, the understandably incredulous teacher punishes him for lying.

If you would like to understand the many references to the fascinating pantheon of Norse gods mentioned in Loki’s tale, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology would be a place to start.

Mostly, Stowell’s Loki/Liam gets into ample mischief and chaos involving Frost Giants, lying to Valerie – who thinks he is from an alien planet, giving “creative” answers on tests, insulting teachers, abetting bullies, and so on. By Day Fifteen, Loki’s Virtue Score is -3650. After betraying Thor to the Frost Giants, the journal ceases to specify an exact number – it’s minus more virtue points than are countable.

Intrigues, illustrated with funny caricatures and Loki’s snide worldview, ensue.

However, by Day Nineteen (page 139!), there is a teeny hint (shown as a thought bubble) that Loki begins to have a conscience. Which, of course, he resists.

The irreverent narrative, written and illustrated by British talent Louie Stowell, creates a convincing portrait of troublemaker Loki in the guise of an eleven-year-old boy. The voice seems spot on. The accompanying artwork appears to be scribbled by a character like juvenile Loki. Imagine my surprise when I discovered who Louie Stowell is. Not a guy. She is a shape-shifter of sorts. Based in England, she began writing non-fiction, but after notable success, decided to shift to “making stuff up.” And it is to our benefit that she did.

Louie Stowell’s portrait from her website.

On the final day of the trial month, when Loki’s doom for questionable behavior seems imminent, Odin cuts him some slack. The allfather determines that Loki’s road to self-improvement is not yet complete. His mission on Midgard will continue. Already released in England, the sequel Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame will be available in the United States on May 9, 2023.

Kids ages 7-10 will love Loki’s irreverence and idiosyncratic exploits. And this quirky tale would be an enticing teaser to exploring Norse Mythology. Louie Stowell has brilliantly dramatized Loki’s plight for those who dwell in 21st-century Midgard.

Candlewick sent me a hardcover review copy, upon which this review is based.

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell (Candlewick Press / Walker Books US, May 24, 2022)

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame by Louie Stowell (Candlewick Press / Walker Books US, coming May 9, 2023)


  1. Norse mythology meets middle school. How fun is this!! What an exceptionally clever premise, and I love the drawings!!


  2. Joyce, this looks amazing. I love middle grade books that teach things in a funny way. Thank you for making me aware of it!


    1. Hillary, Loki/Liam’s story is certainly a quirky, creative way to introduce Norse mythology while showing the pitfalls of trying to morph from being a powerful trickster to being a virtuous god. Loki’s rocky journey in the direction of goodness will be relatable to many readers.


  3. Love this tale of reformation. Loki is so cute. Perfect for children who struggle to conform. Let’s them know they can change their behavior. Sure, it doesn’t happen overnight but it is doable. Can’t wait to read this book and cheer Loki on!


    1. Hello, seahorsecoffeeelectra. Loki’s transformation in this first installment of his story is of course incomplete but would give a naughty reader some hope for redemption. And the book would entertain along the way.


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